Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

 |   |  1 min read

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

When Nick Lowe sang this oldie in concert at the Powerstation recently (see review here), it's a fair bet many in the audience either didn't recognise it, or hadn't heard it in over four decades.

Lowe's treatment -- slow, less dramatic -- made the lyrics act as a neat counterpoint to his own bitter I Trained Her to Love Me. But in McDaniel's hands this song he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach is a very different thing.

McDaniels (who'd previously had a chart hit with 100lbs of Clay) offers a mixture of anger and vengance in the lyrics ("you'd be down on your knees, you'd be calling to meee") with that gulp of regret and self-loathing at his own weakness ("but a tower of strength is something ... [gulp] ... I'll never be").

This was about the last time anyone heard of McDaniels who quit the States after the assassination of Martin Luther King and went to Europe to live and be a songwriter. It worked, he wrote I Feel LIke Making Love (sung by Roberta Flack) which won a Grammy in the mid Seventies, but when he returned to the States he kept a very low profile and died in July 2011, aged 76.

However in the final decade of his quiet life he was much sampled and his powerful, political Compared to What of '69 threw a spotlight on another side of McDaniels. 

However Tower of Strength is a strange one with its drunken trombone and those great gulps.

Once heard .. [gulp] ... never forgotten? 

 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Steve and Eydie: Black Hole Sun (1997)

Steve and Eydie: Black Hole Sun (1997)

The fad for lounge music in the late Nineties was amusing enough, but inevitably most of what emerged was forgettable. (Although who could expunge this from the memory.) Still, groups like... > Read more

The Beatles: I'm Down (1965)

The Beatles: I'm Down (1965)

When the Beatles played that historic concert at Shea Stadium, New York in August '65 before 55,000 -- the biggest audience for a rock concert at that time -- John Lennon clearly enjoyed himself,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Sarah Vaughan; Songs of the Beatles

THE BARGAIN BUY: Sarah Vaughan; Songs of the Beatles

Because we so often think of music as existing in distinct and different periods -- the Swing Era, Fifties rock'n'roll, the Beatles period etc -- we tend to forget just how much overlap there was.... > Read more

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba: Ba Power (Glitterbeat)

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba: Ba Power (Glitterbeat)

Because, in the Bambara language of Mali, the word “ba” means great or strong, some have suggested the title of this swirling, rock-influenced album alludes to the Stooges' Raw... > Read more